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To Censure or Impeach?

July 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

As the Senate prepares to have their own version of an Executive Branch reprimand introduced, the House of Representative’s bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney is looking less and less “off the table.” Last October, then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that impeachment proceedings against President Bush or Vice President Cheney would be “off the table” if Democrats took control of Congress. However, two statements made by members of Congress over the weekend indicate that the pressure in Congress to do something about the Administration is increasing and that a tipping point may be in sight.

First, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold (WI) announced on Meet the Press that he will be introducing “two censure resolutions condemning the President, Vice President and other administration officials for misconduct relating to the war in Iraq and for their repeated assaults on the rule of law.” Censure is a process of formal reprimand that, unlike impeachment, has no Constitutional grounds or legal ramifications. It is a symbolic measure, but Feingold explains why he believes it would be worthwhile: “when future generations look back at the terrible misconduct of this administration, they need to see that a co-equal branch of government stood up and held to account those who violated the principles on which this nation was founded.” Here are ”"target="_blank">the charges that he plans to include in the bills:

>The first resolution will condemn the President and others for misconduct relating to the war in Iraq including:

  • Overstating the case that Saddam Hussein had WMD, particularly nuclear weapons, and falsely implying a relationship with al Qaeda and links to 9/11.
  • Failing to plan for the civil conflict and humanitarian problems that the intelligence community predicted.
  • Over-stretching the Army, Marine Corps and Guard with prolonged deployments.
  • Justifying our military involvement in Iraq by repeatedly distorting the situation on the ground there.
    >The second resolution will focus on the administration’s attack on the rule of law with respect to, among other things:
  • The illegal NSA warrantless wiretapping program.
  • Extreme policies on torture, the Geneva Conventions, and detainees at Guantanamo.
  • The refusal to recognize legitimate congressional oversight into the improper firings of U.S. Attorneys.

Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, has already indicated that he would rather work on the appropriations bills and the Defense Authorization than bring Feingold’s resolution to a vote. On CBS’s Face the Nation he said, “The president already has the mark of the American people that he’s the worst president we’ve ever had, and I don’t think we need a censure resolution in the Senate to prove that.”

But just as Feingold’s censure bill looks prepared to endlessly marinate, the House’s impeachment resolution is getting closer to seeing some legislative action. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a bill to impeach Dick Cheney in April and it has received 14 co-sponsors since then. Over the weekend, House Judiciary Committee Chariman John Conyers (D-MI) stated that if three more Congressmen sign on to the bill, he will begin the impeachment proceedings. Conyers made his statement while speaking at an event in San Diego and David Swanson, co-founder of the impeachment coalition, received word of it while appearing on the radio. Here’s how he explains it:

>I was a guest today on Bree Walker’s radio show. She’s the progressive radio host from California who purchased Cindy Sheehan’s land from her in Crawford, Texas.
>Bree attended an event on Friday in San Diego at which Congressman Conyers spoke about impeachment. Her report was extremely interesting. I had already heard reports that Conyers had said: “What are we waiting for? Let’s take these two guys out!” But, of course, what we’re waiting for is John Conyers. Is he ready to act? It was hard to tell from that comment. In January, Conyers spoke at a huge rally on the National Mall and declared “We can fire them!” but later explained that what he meant was that we could wait for two years and Bush and Cheney’s terms would end. Was this week’s remark just more empty rhetoric?
>It appears to be more than that. Bree Walker told me, on the air, that Conyers said that all he needs is three more Congress Members backing impeachment, and he’ll move on it, even without Pelosi. I asked whether that meant specifically moving from 14 cosponsors of H Res 333 to 17, or adding 3 to the larger number of Congress Members who have spoken favorably of impeachment but not all signed onto bills. Bree said she didn’t know and that Conyers had declined to take any questions.

Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feeds for blog and news coverage of the impeachment bill as it rolls in from all over the internet. There’s been no official validation of Conyers’ statement, but if an when there is, it will surely come through on our feed.

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